As much as I detest Michael Huttner and hate to agree with him about anything, he’s right about one thing: forcibly transferring tax funds to students at Colorado Christian University is “a clear violation of the separation of church and state,” as he told The Denver Post.
The story reports, “Colorado violated the U.S. Constitution when it blocked taxpayer-funded financial aid to students at religious schools that the state calls “pervasively sectarian,” a federal appellate court in Denver ruled Wednesday.”
What is Colorado Christian University (CCU) all about? The title reveals its mission. Its web page elucidates:
FAITH It’s the foundation. Faith is the starting point for learning, understanding, growing, and expanding your horizons. At Colorado Christian University, faith is a critical part of your college experience that speaks to character development, integrity, and becoming the person God intended you to be. It’s what enables CCU to offer a complete education that trains you professionally, equips you spiritually, and encourages you to build confidence in Christ. Faith is the first step to fulfilling your dreams. Then it requires action.
CCU affirms its “Biblical Foundation:”
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2 (NIV)
“For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” John 1:17 (NIV)
The college describes its vision and mission:
We envision graduates who think critically and creatively, lead with high ethical and professional standards, embody the character and compassion of Jesus Christ, and who thereby are prepared to impact the world.
Colorado Christian University cultivates knowledge and love of God in a Christ-centered community of learners and scholars, with an enduring commitment to the integration of exemplary academics, spiritual formation, and engagement with the world.
The college also clearly states its evangelical mission:
Colorado Christian University unites with the broad, historic evangelical faith rather than affiliating with any specific denomination. In this commitment, the University embraces the following declarations of the National Association of Evangelicals:
1. We believe the Bible to be the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God.
2. We believe that there is one God, eternally existent in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
3. We believe in the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, in His virgin birth, in His sinless life, in His miracles, in His vicarious and atoning death through His shed blood, in His bodily resurrection, in His ascension to the right hand of the Father, and in His personal return in power and glory.
4. We believe that for the salvation of lost and sinful people, regeneration by the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential.
5. We believe in the present ministry of the Holy Spirit by whose indwelling the Christian is enabled to live a godly life.
6. We believe in the resurrection of both the saved and the lost; they that are saved unto the resurrection of life and they that are lost unto the resurrection of damnation.
7. We believe in the spiritual unity of believers in our Lord Jesus Christ.
CCU makes one good point: because “state scholarship funds had already been awarded to students enrolled at Methodist and Roman Catholic universities,” it wasn’t fair to exclude only one sort of religious college. But of course the solution to that problem is to forcibly transfer wealth to no religious institution, not to all of them.
Notably, Colorado Christian does not dispute the state’s claim that it is a “pervasively sectarian institution.” Quite obviously it is.
CCU’s claim that a denial of the funds violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments is laughable.
The First Amendment, as Jefferson wrote, was intended to serve the following purpose:
Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church and State.
Forcing people to fund Colorado Christian University (directly or indirectly), when they disagree with the mission of that university, violates their rights of conscience, religion, and property.
The Fourteenth Amendment states, “…nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
Forcing people to fund a religious institution against their beliefs clearly violates their liberty and rights to property.
This case demonstrates the perverse dance between the religious right and the socialist left. The left favors welfare (coercive wealth transfers), including welfare for the poor and welfare for students. The religious right does not oppose this government initiation of force, but instead insists on its share of the loot.
Against the likes of Huttner, I emphasize that it is also morally wrong to force Christians to fund welfare through secular institutions, including scholarships for schools that teach doctrines offensive to Christians. Nevertheless, existing welfare ought not breach the separation of church and state.
While the Bible is open to radically diverse interpretations, you’d think that Colorado Christian University, with its Biblical Foundation and all, might at least pay attention to God’s advice: “You shall not steal.” Shame on you.